A group of passionate trail users are working to develop and maintain Ladysmith’s trail network.
The group was formed back in January 2019 as a chapter of the Cowichan Trail Stewardship Society, (CTSS). They plan to work with the Town of Ladysmith, and various landowners to develop trails for all users, and varying skill levels. The chapter was formed after the Ladysmith Trail Society disbanded. The group chose to work with CTSS because of the organization’s experience and resources they’ve built up over the past six years.
“[CTSS] has already established themselves with land owners and municipalities. They’ve developed things like acquiring the tools and trailers that are required to do the services we perform. We reached out to them and decided to become a chapter… and that springboarded us into where we are today,” said Ladysmith CTSS director and treasurer Ryan McDonald.
For now, the Ladysmith CTSS is focused on building up relationships with various entities in the Town and growing their presence in the community. They are also training to develop their trail building skill sets so they can maintain Ladysmith’s trails. On May 26 the CTSS held a workshop on the foundations of trail care.
“A lot of people I chat with, I find I’m educating them it’s not a mountain biking club, and that it is more multi-purpose. It’s for any trail user, whether that’s someone who goes from the cop-shop to the bridge at Holland Creek, and maybe wants to explore a little further. I think a lot of people do that in this town, and don’t realize how much we can do for them as well,” CTSS member Rich Huggins said.
Development of trails is a long term goal of the Town’s 2016 parks and recreation master plan. The plan specifically states the Town’s intention to explore the creation of an off-road Trans Canada Trail alignment within Town boundaries, and improve connections to the trail over a long term. The plan includes the Town’s medium term goal of developing a partnership with regional sport tourism that promotes the use of hiking and biking trails.
The Town also laid out a strategy in their 2018 economic development plan to develop a funding-ready plan for mountain bike trail development, and outlines opportunities to apply for funding from the Island Coastal Economic Trust, and the Community Gaming Grants program under the rationale that trail infrastructure is a freely available public benefit. Investment in trail infrastructure was estimated to bring a return of $650,000 a year to Ladysmith. It was the highest ranked net positive financial impact on local government, and the highest ranked estimated return for economic development.
“We know aspects — based on other communities — how well trails can help with the economic development of the community and promote people to live here and discover aspects that will lead them to not just come to this community… but also to live here,” McDonald said.